Get Started With Lean Manufacturing by Using 5S for Workplace Organization

Get Started With Lean Manufacturing by Using 5S for Workplace Organization

5S is a technique for organizing a workplace that helps to streamline processes. Tennessee manufacturers can adopt Lean manufacturing principles with the help of 5S.  By using this proven method, Tennessee manufacturers can create safer, cleaner and more organized workplace arrangements.

Getting Started with 5S 
The hardest part is getting started. Lean manufacturing works to eliminate waste in processes and materials, and this is where “5S” can lead the way for a budding new program.

Assess the items used in the workplace and sort the necessary from the unnecessary. Unnecessary items crowd your workspace, and then it’s harder to find the materials that are needed. Pinpoint outdated equipment, dispose of broken tools and clean out the junk. Safety and productivity will immediately improve with the extra space and improved organization.

“Set-in-Order” involves placing the useful items in carefully planned locations based on frequency of use and where they are used. For example, if a certain tool is used in the same area of the facility, move those tools to that area. Be logical about where items and equipment are placed. Now workers can essentially turn themselves around and grab what they need instead of walking across the room 10 times every day. Make a goal of retrieving all needed items in less than 30 seconds.

Determine a thorough program for cleaning and maintenance. Cleaning of equipment and production areas each day significantly reduces maintenance costs and exposes possible issues before they become a full-blown breakdown.

The next step, Standardize, builds on the “Shine” cleaning program. Using a team approach, create standardized procedures for both safety and production. Once the standards are in place, make plenty of signs and labels for the equipment and work areas so that inspecting and operating machines can be conducted quickly. This makes onboarding of new employees much smoother. Anyone on the shop floor should be able to recognize when equipment is unsafe or malfunctioning when this task is completed.

No process or program should ever be considered perfect or “finished.” The basis of the 5S philosophy is constant review and improvement. The team should schedule regular appraisals of the newly cleaned and organized work area to ensure that the new standards are maintained and improved.

The 5S Program does a great job of kick starting a Lean manufacturing program, but don’t be mistaken – it’s more than a big cleanup. It’s a structured program that will give the operation immediate and dramatic results and sets the stage for a significant culture shift.

Bring in an expert 
Although the 5S Program is a simple methodology to understand at a basic level, an experienced Lean manufacturing expert can bring all of these steps into focus with guidance on organizing your workplace and implementing changes to the culture. Bringing in an expert is an idea worth exploring.

The University of Tennessee – Center for Industrial Services (UT-CIS) offers training and implementation assistance for 5S and Lean manufacturing. Consider using our expertise to your advantage. To find out more information, contact your local Solutions Consultant.

About Tennessee Manufacturing

Manufacturing is an integral part of Tennessee's economy. According to the National Association of Manufactuers, the industry accounts for nearly 15 percent of the state's total output and employs 11.4 percent of its workforce. The goal of the Made in Tennessee program is to support the Volunteer State's manufacturing community by raising awareness of their products and providing resources to help them grow. 


About the Center for Industrial Services

For 50 years, CIS has assisted manufacturers across the state in the areas of business growth, health and safety and sustainability. CIS also has led economic development efforts by helping existing firms become more competitive, develop new products and markets, and by teaching economic development practitioners new approaches to navigating economic growth. For more on CIS visit